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October 13, 2020

10 rules for negotiating Notary fees

Originally published in Nov 06, 2017

Many Notaries complain about how little they get paid. And then I complain about how little they know. The two tend to go together and the pay is not going to go up before the knowledge does. However, there are negotiating techniques that can help.

1. Let them name their price first
In a bargaining game, it is better to let the other person bid first. You can always raise your ask price if they don’t offer enough. But, if they offer far too much, you would never get it if you asked first and asked too low.

2. Start with a high ask price
If you ask for $125, you can always go down on your price, especially if the job is close or fast. You can ask how many pages, fax backs, and notarizations are in the package. If it is quick, then give them a quick price.

3. Never whine
If you whine about the condition of the industry or how low the fee was, people will think you are a low life. Professionals don’t whine. Professionals operate! So, if you are offered $60, ask for $85 and see what happens.

4. Decline the low-ball offers
If you spend all day working for peanuts, then when the good jobs come, you won’t have time. Decline bad offers so you are free for good offers.

5. Answer your phone
If you only offer when you are not in a signing and not driving or cooking or thinking, you will miss 80% of your calls. How can you negotiate a good fee if you don’t take the call in the first place?

6. Act professional
Try to impress them without trying to impress them. Most Notaries try to do a snow job and brag about how great they are. Seasoned operators don’t do this. Smart professionals will engage you in an intelligent conversation about the job, the industry and the state of the union. Ask them questions about the job, where it is, who it is for, what type of loan it is, and about their career and industry working in title or escrow. But, whatever you do, don’t talk about your zero percent error rate and how reliable and experienced you are — nobody can verify your claims and nobody wants to hear it.

7. Never say hello
Unless you work for an aloe vera companies, don’t answer the phone saying “aloe?” Answer stating your company name and personal name. It sounds professional. If you have screaming kids in the background that sounds horribly unprofessional. Have a quiet place to answer the phone and if you are in a noisy place, try to go to a quieter place and apologize about the noise. Just because you don’t mind noise doesn’t mean the title company enjoys barking dog and screaming three year old.

8. Talk about real life
Sometimes I talk to Notaries who tell the Title company that you can call me to clean up the mess after you hire one of those $50 signers. Over half my work is clean up work. That sounds real to title companies unlike all the nonsense about how experienced and knowledgeable you are which just sounds like fluff. Tell real stories about how you handled complicated situations that others might have goofed. Mention that split signing where you did some complicated manouver on the Acknowledgment certificate and how you went out to sign the wife at 3am because she could only see you at that time due to her busy schedule as a nurse. This is impressive and much better than fluff.

9. Negotiate timing
You can offer a better rate if they get you late after rush hour. They might prefer to just offer you more and get the job booked.

10. Double book and get a bad review
Yes, you’ll get bad reviews from this, but double booking makes sense. People cancel jobs all the time when they hire you, so why can’t you cancel a few jobs. If you book jobs tightly, the other person will cancel 20% of the time — at least. So, if you book a job for $60 and someone else offers you $150, you can ditch the first job and take the other. You will probably get a bad review that will last for three years, but you will have $90 extra in your pocket. It’s a dirty technique. Not recommended, but food for thought and great blog material.

11. Never let them see you sweat.
Appearing calm and collected are the way to go. If you seem flustered, that is bad. Oops, that was eleven rules and I promised ten. Okay, disregard point eleven and just use antiperspirant.

You might also like:

How to negotiate fees like a pro

Can you negotiate prices with SnapDocs?

Notary Marketing 102 – Negotiating Fees

A complete guide to getting paid



  1. 1. Let them name their price first
    I, the SELLER of the service determines the price. Would you call your doctor and say you want a 75$ examination?

    2. Start with a high ask price
    I have only one fee, it’s stated after learning the details, “My fee for what you described would be…….” Haggeling is not professional.

    Comment by Kenneth Edelstein — November 6, 2017 @ 11:41 pm

  2. Good article. If you ask a higher price for example on a reverse mortgage application signing, and they ask why or even if they don’t, it pays to explain why you are charging more. Often times the assigner has no idea what all is involved and the many pitfalls and time eaters some Reverse Mortgage applications can be. I let them know the signers are many times very elderly,have poor eyesight and take much coaching to sign correctly, CONSISTENTLY, they are usually widowed and alone, sad. I explain at times I have had to dig through there stack of files (mail) to help them find items requested. I like helping elderly people, I try to be very patient with them as I would hope ones would be with my 92 year father. For that reason I ask a high premium, but I leave the signer calmer and more secure feeling than most. This needs explaining to get the money you deserve.

    Comment by David R Collins — March 22, 2018 @ 8:35 pm

  3. I agree with everything except except double booking. I have been a signing agent for over 22 years now and I Would never never double book something. I don’t care what the cost is, if I commit to a appt I keep it! I personally don’t want any negative reviews no matter what. Even though I could make more $ at another appt. I pride my self with my integrity and professionalism at all cost all these years

    Comment by Judy — January 11, 2019 @ 5:01 am

  4. Thank you for your great, helpful articles I definitely negotiate my fees, we live in a very rural area plus different types of signings that I do also and all the Title Companies I work with are great in this area. Thanks Jackie

    Comment by Jackie Brown — February 18, 2019 @ 4:29 pm

  5. I charge based on driving time and/or distance. With vendors who are consistently reliable, few last minte cancellations, few faxbacks, honest price offers, quick pays, I may take a smaller fee, not very much smaller, because the closing will go through and I will be paid timely.

    Comment by Elise Dee Beraru — February 18, 2019 @ 4:37 pm

  6. Great Tips. Thanks.

    Comment by Kalation A Washington — February 18, 2019 @ 11:41 pm

  7. I don’t haggle. I tell them, or text them if they simply MUST only offer through texting, tell them my fee. If the company says they need to check with their superiors, I tell theme to send it on over if they agree to my fee, otherwise, have a nice day, and I’ll catch you on the next one! I haven’t worked for one company in 2 years bc of their lowball offers and their whining that MY fee takes all of their profit. ONLY title companies can claim that. Lenders make $thousands on loans and are reluctant to share their wealth with we, the lowly notaries, but, just like truck drivers, the job (or product) doesn’t get done without US. Our business Is cyclical, sometimes their isn’t much work. RIGHT NOW, there are a LOT of signings and the NSA that takes the lowball offers cannot do all of them. I also have proven that I get the job done and drop in a timely manner, and several companies appreciate this and compensate me for it.

    Comment by betty — December 21, 2020 @ 4:59 pm

  8. Considering the fact that I want to keep working I don’t think its worth it to double book. I have a few title companies that call me but in a small town, you take what you can get. I pass on the low ball offers. They always come back around with a better price.

    Comment by Bernadette Jacoban — April 19, 2021 @ 5:19 pm

  9. This is something Carmen taught me that has worked. RIP Carmen. If they want to know your fee, reply with “Is $200 okay ?” They can reply yes or if no, they can say that is higher than we can pay, how about xyz”. If you answer initially with $200, then you do not leave yourself open for a counteroffer.

    This has worked 100 % of the time for me..

    Comment by Judy Jeong — July 16, 2021 @ 3:46 am

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